How does Jem develop empathy and tolerance by reading to Mrs. Dubose in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter eleven, Jem loses his temper after his racist neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, makes derogatory remarks about Atticus. Atticus ends up punishing Jem by making him read to Mrs. Dubose for two hours each day. Scout tags along and listens as Jem reads for his required amount of time to Mrs. Dubose six days a week. Jem's punishment lasts a little over a month, and he begins to see a significant change in her demeanor.

After Mrs. Dubose passes away, Atticus elaborates on her condition and explains her unique situation to his children. Atticus gives Jem a present from Mrs. Dubose, which is a white camellia, and explains why she is the bravest person he's ever known. Atticus tells Jem that his reading helped Mrs. Dubose conquer her morphine addiction by keeping her occupied between doses. With Jem's help, Mrs. Dubose fulfilled her promise to herself by conquering her morphine addiction before she passed away. Atticus uses Mrs. Dubose as an example for teaching his children an important lesson in...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 727 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team